The Slow Summer

The translation industry is known for slowing down during the summer months. Why? One might ask. Well, for one, many are on vacation(s) during the summer, which limits the amount of requests we might receive, since clients are more engaged in summer time activities and less engaged with their work. But that’s not the only reason. Let’s see why eslse the third quarter of the fiscal year typically slows down for the translation industry.

For Burg, we notice that many of our clients have frequent and sizable job requests at the beginning of the year. This typically occurs because their budgets are formed at the onset of the New Year and clients are eager to put their budget to use. However, during the third quarter, they reign in their spending to ensure that they have enough funds to get them through the end of the fiscal year. No one wants to spend their annual budget before the year is up…

We further base this projection upon the influx of job requests we receive during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. Our clients want to ensure that they use the funds allotted to them before their fiscal year is out. This occurs primarily because their budgets do not roll over to the next fiscal year. It is hard to make general predictions across the industry; however, this data serves as the trend of our Firm for the past decade or more.


Language translation is not only an art, it’s a profession. Every profession has its tools. If you translate for the same clients all the time, you will inevitably have to translate the same sentence again and again. Your clients will simply reuse content among different products of the same product line, among different versions or editions of the same product, or they will just modify a previously translated contract to match their needs.

As you work, you research terminology but unless you keep a glossary, chances are that you won’t remember each and every term researched. In translation there are many tasks that you can facilitate with special software. MemoQ addressees many of our needs. To begin, it helps translators become more productive and deliver translations faster, and it helps companies – translation buyers – coordinate their translation efforts with translators and cut costs by not having the same content translated twice. When using MemoQ, you can deliver better quality human translations in less time.

MemoQ is integrated: When you work on documents, the documents come in a variety of file formats such as Microsoft Office formats (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), DTP formats (such as Adobe InDesign or Framemaker), XML-based formats, HTML, localization formats (such as RESX or Java properties files), etc. MemoQ separates the text from the formatting leaving you only the text to work on. When you are done with the translation, MemoQ puts the target language back into the original format. This way formatting remains undisturbed, and you can work on a variety of file formats without having to learn a variety of tools.

MemoQ has full-featured editing that is streamlined for translation. As you translate, you see the original text in the documents replaced in real time by your translated text. You translate sentence by sentence, or where the concept of a sentence is not applicable (for example catalogs), segment by segment. When you translate a sentence, you add it to a translation memory, a database that remembers all of your previously translated sentences and their translations. If MemoQ finds a translation already stored in the translation memory, it gives you a match. It can even tell you if this translation has been translated in the same context or not.

You can also build a term base or a glossary. The expressions that you add will be highlighted and offered for automatic insertion if the source segment contains them. If you want to avoid the use of certain words, you can.

If you’re trying to find how a certain expression was translated previously, just highlight it and with the click of a button you will get all the sentences with their translations that include the expression. If MemoQ finds a longer expression that has already been translated before but not added to your term base, it automatically highlights that – therefore assisting you in translating institution names, spare part names and other expressions consistently.

Even if you don’t have a translation memory, you can still reuse already translated materials (source and target language files) simply by including them in a MemoQ project. MemoQ matches the source and target content automatically in the background, but still permits human intervention for fine-tuning the results. MemoQ is the only widely used tool for translators that offers this functionality.

MemoQ makes you more productive by:

  • Accelerating document editing. MemoQ automatically retrieves suggestions for expressions or entire sentences and allows you to insert these suggestions into the text with a single click or keystroke. You don’t have to worry about formatting either. You learn to use a single, easy-to-use tool and you can translate any document type you want.
  • Cutting research time. MemoQ remembers everything that you have translated before so you don’t have to research the same thing twice. The translation for any previously translated expression is just a click away. You can also exchange databases with other translators.
  • Making your translations more consistent. Suggestions, editing improvements and built-in quality assurance checks guarantee that your translation is as consistent as it can be. Consistency is one of the key aspects of quality, both of which MemoQ aid.
  • Allowing you to work on several documents at the same time. If you work in MemoQ it won’t matter if your client delivers website content in a single Microsoft Word file or a thousand HTML files – you can perform all operations on a single file or a batch of files. You can check if you have translated the same sentence differently in another file, or you can replace expressions in all files at once.
  • Preventing failure. Whatever your client can detect as a translation mistake, you can also detect using MemoQ’s built-in quality assurance.

MemoQ is among the world’s leading translation environments. It excels in the following areas:

  • Leverage. MemoQ builds databases and offers the maximum content reuse in the industry.
  • Ease of use. You can start working in less than an hour.
  • Flexibility. MemoQ does not force any specific workflow on you, and it does not lock you into the tool.
  • Collaboration. You can work together with other translators and with your clients easily.
  • Interoperability. It does not matter what translation environments your clients or your fellow translators use, you can exchange your databases. You can take jobs where you have to deliver in another tool and you can give jobs to translators using other tools.
  • Eye for details. MemoQ was designed by people with a lot of experience in translation and project management. They have paid attention to the small details that can make your work more efficient.

Do you know what “LEP,” stands for? If you don’t, you are about to be cured. Let me explain: “LEP” stands for Limited English Proficiency. This term identifies a group of citizens, or aliens (non-citizens) who have a limited ability to speak English, typically because English is not their first language.

The American government, under Bill Clinton’s presidency enacted a law, the Executive Order 13166 in the year 2000 to assist the LEP population in America. The order was made as an amendment to Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964. This law states that people who fall into the LEP category should have meaningful access to federally funded programs and activities in order to have equal services to those who do speak English. For many, this simply means understanding what is conveyed, whether it be spoken or written.

The Executive Order 13166 is titled “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.” Outlined, each agency or federal institution implementing this law received instruction to see where improvements to services for LEPs could be developed and to implement those necessary services. The caveat is that the services do not detract from the overall mission of the agency. Since the law’s enactment, many establishments have instituted these programs successfully.

The Executive Order 13166 primarily manifests itself through government funded programs. The programs come in all shapes and sizes: some are basic instruction of the English language, while others are the provision of document translations, interpreters, bilingual staff and educational services.

Within the scope of document translations, one might ask, how do you assess which documents need to be provided for LEP persons? LEP individuals are afforded access to “vital” documents. These include documents containing information that is critical for obtaining federal services and / or benefits, or documents that are required to be read by law.

For example, “vital” documents could be applications, consent and complaint forms, notices of rights, and disciplinary action. “Vital” documents can also be notices of advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance, prison rulebooks, written tests that assess competency for a particular license, job, or skill for which English competency is not required, and letters or notices that require a response from the beneficiary or client.

Non vital information includes documents that are not critical to access, such as benefits and services. For example, an advertisement of a federal agency tour, or a copy of a testimony presented to Congress, which serve informational purposes are considered non-vital.

The decision for documents to be translated into certain languages over others is based upon the percentage, or direct number of the population to be served. Remember, the services have to be financially viable. For example, if there is one Tagalog speaker (the Philippine national language) and five Spanish speakers among the group of LEPs at a certain organization or within a certain community, your guess is correct in that the documents will be translated into Spanish and not Tagalog. The decision to provide one language over another takes into account the overall efficacy of the program given the allotted resources.

One of the most important interactions that LEP individuals experience are court interactions, because decisions made in court often affect LEP individuals in a big way. Think of immigration laws that apply to this scenario. Court interactions are additionally important for LEP individuals as decisions are made regarding their human or civil rights.

Programs afforded LEP communities are beneficial on two accounts. First, as the LEP population interacts with one another via government funded programs; they have a higher chance of connecting with those who share their respective language or ethnicity. When I conducted my thesis on refugees’ transitions to America, I learned that refugees and immigrants experience isolation. One remedy to this traumatic side effect—and one of the most effective ways to ensure a smooth transition—is to interact with others who speak their language or others of the same ethnicity and culture.

Second, LEPs who attend programs which were created for the purpose of their understanding are also going to gain a broadened awareness of English and hopefully begin learning to use it on their own. The hope is that LEPs will eventually outgrow the need to attend these programs, or outgrow their LEP status, altogether; and further LEP individuals’ knowledge of English.

What defines an LEP programs’ success? One might ask. Good question. The programs’ assessments are based upon four criteria. The first criterion is the number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program. Second, the program is assessed on the frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program. Third, the program is assessed on their nature and contribution to people’s lives. Fourth and finally, the program is assessed on the resources available to the agency and the cost associated with its provision.

The criteria reflects again the overall mission of ensuring that LEP persons have meaningful access to critical translation services while not imposing unnecessary burdens to the small business or nonprofit institution in which they are launched.

The Department of Justice indicates that charging LEP persons for an interpreter, or neglecting to provide a translator can in some cases, be seen as national origin discrimination. One interesting implementation of this order is seen within the Police Department, where policemen use flashcards to depict images of pertinent words. These picture cards are not a substitute for a live interpreter; however, they provide a quick and ready solution to pending linguistic barriers, while awaiting the arrival of an interpreter or a competent bilingual staffer. This tool comes in handy, especially when police officers are attempting to extract information from an LEP witness at the scene of an accident, or crime.

On that note, officers using these cards need to ensure that they are neither leading the witness on, nor limiting the witness or victim to make choices that are not what the individual would have actually communicated, had there not been a language barrier. Finally, the Department of Justice strongly advises that all translations be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that the translation was properly and fully conveyed. The review of the translation helps ensure that any errors do not hinder the investigation, put prosecutions at risk, or create confusion and misidentification.

The LEP community directly affects the translation industry as organizations or institutions hosting LEP programs need language services. Moreover, when organizations and institutions hosting LEP programs receive direct government funding, often there are stipulations associated with the funds that require employing certified linguistic services, or certified language service providers.

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Xuanzang, one of the most famous translators in the world was a Seventh Century Chinese monk. Xuanzang is known for his translations, and leading a spiritually and intellectually enriching life. He traveled to India in search of Buddhist scriptures, returning seven years later in a pack of animals.

Xuanzang was born into a family of sophistication. He was the youngest of four; and boasts of a lineage of grandfathers and great-grandfathers serving as officials in the capital. His father, however, withdrew from office into isolation, once the political scene grew tumultuous in the early to mid-600s. When Xuanzang was young, he impressed his father by being extremely intelligent. His father taught him and his siblings Confucianist thought. As young as eight, Xuanzang expressed an aptitude and a desire to learn about Confucianism. One of his brothers became a monk, and Xuangzang soon followed suit. He studied Buddhism for five years as he lived with his older brother.

At the age of 20, Xuanzang was ordained as a monk. Prior to Xuanzang’s journey to India, he traveled through China in search of sacred books of Buddhism. He still lived with his brothers studying Buddhism until he decided he would go explore India. Once he had made this decision, he proceeded to learn Sanskrit. Xuanzang’s overland journey to India took seventeen years.

Part of the reason for Xuanzang’s journey was because of a dream he had. During this time, the Tang Dynasty was at war and prohibited travel. As such, Xuanzang had to literally escape by persuading Buddhist guards to let him exit a certain gated area in the province of Qinghai. He then made his way to the Gobi Desert, moving westward. Along the way he met a king, who was Buddhist and helped fund his journey. Before he reached India, he came across a community of over a thousand Buddhist monks.

During his seventeen year pilgrimage, Xuanzang returned to China as a venerated monk. The Emperor of Tang greeted him upon his arrival home. Instead of retiring to a monastery or anything of the like, Xuanzang translated Buddhist texts for nineteen years, until his death.

(The above statue is of Xuanzang in Xi’an.)

Xuanzang made a profound impact on Chinese Buddhism by translating texts from Sanskrit.  When Xuanzang returned from his pilgrimage, he set up a translation firm in Chang’an, or present-day Xi-an. This translation firm attracted students and collaborators from East Asia. It was through this effort that Xuanzang is credited with translating roughly 1,330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese.

Another initiative that Xuanzang did during this time was establishing the Faxiang School in East Asia. This school’s principles on perception, consciousness (Xuanzang’s favorite aspect of Buddhism), karma and rebirth later permeated other doctrines of more successful schools.

Further, Xuanzang’s extensive translations of Indian Buddhist texts to Chinese have enabled recoveries of lost Indian Buddhist texts from the translated Chinese copies. He is credited with writing or compiling the Cheng Weishi Lun, which serves as a commentary on these texts. His translation of the Heart Sutra remains the standard in all East Asian Buddhist sects. He also founded the short-lived but influential Faxiang school of Buddhism. Additionally, he was known for recording the events of the reign of the northern Indian emperor, Harsha.

Xuanzang, with a team of disciple translators, translated the voluminous work of Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra. Many of his disciple translators urged Xuanzang to render an abridged version. Xuanzang’s work, the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, is the longest and most detailed account of the countries of Central and South Asia that has been bestowed upon posterity by a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim. While his main purpose was to obtain Buddhist books and to receive instruction on Buddhism while in India, he ended up doing much more. He has preserved the records of political and social aspects of the lands he visited.

The translator of the 16th century had a much more challenging career than the translator today. Three famous translators met their death on account of being good at their industry’s trade. The first translator was tortured and burned at the stake, the second translator was strangled and burned; and the third died more naturally. While translators undergo hardships within their industry today; they certainly are not being burned or strangled.

Etienne Dolet, the first of the three translators killed for their translations, certainly had motives beyond that of an objective translator. Dolet’s work as a poet, scholar, painter and translator prized humanistic thought, which greatly influenced the French Renaissance. His work, however, was thought of by his authorities to be heresy. The religious and political authorities of his day believed he pushed the envelope. For the rulers of his time, the death sentence was logical; to Dolet’s fellow humanists and to the rest of the modern world, this execution is absurd. Regardless, his fate left him with the title of “the first martyr of the Renaissance.”

One of Dolet’s biographers indicates that his “erroneous” translations, which were one of the charges leading to his “heresy,” only added perspective to humanistic thought. Dolet was recognized in France as the first theoretician in the translation industry, though Luther and Cicero hold equal claim. This title can be said to be derived from a thin pamphlet written in 1540, entitled La maniére de bien traduire d’une langue en aultre. Dolet’s pamphlet reduces translation to five main points. The most applicable of Dolet’s points is expressed as follows:

“The third point is that while translating, you must not be enslaved to the extent of rendering word for word. And if anyone does so, this comes from his impoverishment and deficiency of wit. Because if he possesses the above-mentioned qualities (which are needed in a good translator), without having regard for word order, he will concentrate on the meaning and handle things so that the intention of the author is expressed, while heedfully maintaining the propriety of both languages. And in this regard, it is excessive superstition (might I say stupidity or ignorance?) to begin one’s translation at the start of the sentence. But if by reversing the word order, you express the intention of your author, no on can take you to task for it. I do not wish to remain silent here about the foolishness of some translators, who instead of freedom submit to servitude.”

To be fair, the translation and localization territory comes with much subjectivity. However, what Dolet urges translators to do is to employ wit and to not be bound by verbatim translations, which in some cases do not actually convey the appropriate message. His advice is fitting, given the nature of the translation industry today.

The second of our ill-fated translators is William Tyndale, whose name is recognizable through the current Tyndale House Publishers, which serves to publish Bibles among other Christian books. This 16th century translator was motivated by spiritual devotion. He was captured by Martin Luther’s teachings and admired Luther’s early translation of the Bible into English. Tyndale so admired Luther’s attempt in Germany to bring a sacred text into the hands of the common man that he threatened to mimic Luther’s revolt in England. At the thought of having this sacred text, which was reserved for the elite, now available to the common man, Henry VIII put a price on Tyndale’s head; thus forcing Tyndale to flee to Germany. However, as the fate of the Translator’s life during the 16th century would have it, Tyndale was arrested in Belgium and strangled, then burned to death in 1536, after one year in prison.

The third translator who suffered during the 16th century is Martin Luther. While Luther did not suffer from a beheading or burned at the stake; he is considered by his followers to have undergone severe punishment or treatment due to his theology, proclamation thereof, and translation of the Bible into German. Luther died at age 62 of relatively natural causes. He suffered from a multitude of diseases that may have been normal for the time. Luther was summoned to the Diet of Worms, a council in Worms, Germany headed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V after Luther hung his 95 thesis on the door of the church. Luther was considered a heretic by his human authorities. His actions went against the norm, and therefore sparked the Protestant Reformation. Even though Luther was not killed instantly by the authorities, he was excommunicated from the church by Pope Leo X, and condemned as an outlaw by the holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The outcome of the Diet of Worms sealed Luther’s fate as an outlaw. This declaration banned his literature, required his arrest and punishment as a notorious heretic. It also criminalized any German who gave Luther food or shelter. Finally, this order enabled anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence.


Any 21st century translator that thinks they have it hard can reflect on the lives of their 16th century colleagues and note that it is easier today to be a translator than it was during the 1500s. For Dolet, Tyndale and Luther, freedom of speech was a distant and often non-existent concept. They were punished greatly, if not killed for their “actions,” which in essence are an every-day part of the translation industry.

“Translation services” are often understood as interpretative services. However, “translation” further indicates any form of rendering from one language to another. For example, while Burg offers interpretive services, we primarily conduct document translations. We service nearly every major and minor world language. There are, however, other types of translations that occur on a day to day basis, which some argue are harder—if not impossible to translate. This discussion looks at two different meanings of the word, “translation:” the common meaning, and the other meaning.

The common meaning is most frequently associated with the word “translation.”  That is, “translation” as “a rendering from one language into another.” This definition of “translations” is akin to a transposition, a transcription, or a change in substance or appearance. The majority of individuals think of this definition of the word when “translation” is used. This is what is meant by the name Burg Translations.

The need for translation services is an interesting one. It is virtually a necessary evil. Companies or groups needing to globalize, or market their materials for an international audience, require firms and other Language Service Providers (LSPs) like us. According to Matthew Romaine and Jennifer Richardson, the translation and localization industry’s net worth was $14.25 billion in 2008. By 2013, the industry is expected to increase to $25 billion, roughly a 47% increase over the course of five years.

Obviously, companies or groups reaching out to these markets—or for legal purposes, reaching their audience / client—need translation services. Our industry becomes the necessary evil when regulation determines that the company, or group, must use credible sources for their translations. Thank God for standards!

The other meaning of the word “translation” is a little harder to describe and certainly harder to grow into a necessary industry. Let me attempt to explain: Often times, there is a divide between two individuals who speak the same language. When two individuals who speak the same language engage in dialogue, they are not always understood by one another. How is this so? One might ask. Very simple. Though two individuals may speak the same language; they are certainly different people, comprised of different minds, who may formulate thoughts into words very differently.

This other meaning of the word “translation” is disclosed in the root word, “translate” (2.c:), which indicates explanations. Explanations happen on a day to day basis. How many times have you heard: “I do not understand what he / she are trying to say?” This kind of a “translation” is similar to a reiteration, or “in other words…”

Apply a recent situation in which you were misunderstood, or encountered difficulty understanding another individual. To be sure, communicative misunderstandings happen across nationalities or ethnicities, because of linguistic barriers; but they also happen amid identical nationalities and ethnicities. Further, misunderstandings happen under the same roof, and within the same office.

It is imperative, that when these misunderstandings happen, one proceeds to reiterate oneself or clear up the misunderstanding.  If not, the message sent when no attempt to repair a misunderstanding is made, can be lack of care. The message’s sender can—at the very least—repeat oneself until the recipient of the message (receiver) receives the correct message. Wouldn’t you agree?

It is most helpful when misunderstandings occur to take note of them for the purpose of improving one’s communicative ability. I find this meaning of the word “translation” (the “other meaning”) to be harder to resolve. Please note that while miscommunication can be irritating, you can keep them interesting by trying to solve them! If only there was an industry for these types of translations.

Two years ago, the Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to nineteen years in jail for blogging. Who knew that blogging could be so dangerous? When my employer, Burg Translations, asked me to begin a blog, of course I researched the risks involved in the task. Thus far, I came across one extremely scary case: Derakshshan of Iran. Other than that, it looked like a relatively safe activity. Given the fact that I am not blogging in Iran and will not be publishing politically controversial material, I think I can risk this.

Known as the “blogfather” of Iran, Derakhshan published a guide to blogging in Farsi, which incited the creation of roughly 75,000 Persian blogs. In his blog he boasted of making a trip to Israel, which may be the reason why he was charged with “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic regime, [and] insulting religious sanctity.”

In a nation like Iran that affords limited to no freedom of speech, Derakhshan needed to blog carefully. Derakhshan may have been guilty of being a harsh critic of his nation’s government; but serving a nineteen year jail sentence for blogging certainly makes one consider the content they enter into their blog, and question the fairness of Iran’s judicial system. To date, Derekhshan incurred the longest sentence ever given to a blogger.

The same quality processes that we use for e-learning and website translations extend to the translation of blogs. Our quality processes include TUV Rheinland’s 9001:2008, EN 15038:2006, and ISO 13485:2003 operating standards. Please contact our Quality Manager, or Assistant Quality Manager in our Quality Assurance Department for more information. +1.800.959.2874 (BURG)

Welcome to TheBurgBlog.  This blog aims to keep you abreast of Burgs’ happenings as well as keep you informed on history and current trends within the industry.